Many fans want to look around and point their blame at many different aspects when it comes to the conclusion of a 2-10 season for the Arkansas Razorbacks. The 10 losses were most in school history. Seven seasons removed from the best two year run in Razorback memory. The 2010 season finished 10-3 and 2011 finished 11-2 with a highest ranking of third going into the last regular season game in 2011 versus LSU. Wow! How the mighty have fallen. The Razorbacks were flying high before their promising 2012 season wound up in a literal ditch April 1. Bobby Petrino was fired days later and the Razorback football program has spiraled out of control since.
2008: 5-7 (2-6) New coach Bobby Petrino
2009: 8-5 (3-5)
2010: 10-3 (6-2)
2011: 11-2 (6-2)
2012: 4-8 (2-6) Interim coach John L Smith
2013: 3-9 (0-8) New coach Bret Bielema
2014: 7-6 (2-6)
2015: 8-5 (5-3)
2016: 7-6 (3-5)
2017: 4-8 (1-7)
2018: 2-10 (0-8) New coach Chad Morris
Morris has a lot of work to do in order to bring Razorback football back to what it once was, a perennial bowl team that many teams feared facing. There was a feeling at one time when teams knew that Arkansas would bring a physical game, hit you in the mouth and leave you hurting heading into your next game. Playing Arkansas meant something special seven years ago. Now, Arkansas has somehow fallen off track. The wheels began to loosen somewhere between the monumental victory over Ole Miss in 2016 and the next game verses Auburn in a 56-3 loss. The Razorback football program went from being a physical up and coming team under Bielema to a fragile team in a matter of a week. What happened? Were guys not motivated? Players not put in the place to succeed? Where was the speed? Where are the guys with a football IQ? Where are the men with the want to? Where are the guys who take pride not to come out and be manhandled weekly? When does the bleeding stop? Obviously, the problems have lingered on into the beginning of the Chad Morris tenure. Fans are tired of losing. The number of fans that show up for games at the 76,000 Razorback Stadium shows. The talk on twitter shows Razorback fans are sick of the product on the football field and are already wanting Chad Morris gone. PUMP THE BREAKS.
Arkansas saw improvement throughout 2018. From not having a pulse against North Texas, the Razorbacks came out with a fight against Auburn in a loss. The continued to show they would not quit against Texas A&M and were a touchdown from tying it and forcing overtime. Arkansas continued to respectively fight at home against AP no. 1 Alabama. The Hogs cranked it up the next week against Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium in the freezing cold rain and led for 57 minutes in the ball game before allowing the momentum to switch to the Rebels and steal the victory. With a victory over Tulsa, the Hogs still could reach a bowl game heading into the game against Vanderbilt.
Week 9 of the college football season brought an 11 AM start to a game between two teams in the SEC cellar. Arkansas did not get off to as hot a start to that game and lost 49-35. The off week brought hope again and a video of a hype Chad Morris got the players motivated to play as hard as they could but again lost a close game this time to a CFP no. 7 team in the LSU Tigers, 24-17.
The wheels fell off against Mississippi State and Missouri with a combined 94-6 score to close the season. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated with the fans. How can that be fixed? Getting better. Like I said earlier, at one time players took pride in playing for the Razorbacks. Social media has only magnified the divide between a few of the players and fans. The Razorback fans are starving, parched for a winner and as soon as the Chad Morris points the Hogs to their winning ways, those feelings will go away.
How does a 2-10 team get better? There is one word, recruit. Honestly, that’s the best thing Morris has going for him right now and he has the 10th ranked class on Rivals.com for the 2019 recruiting class. We know there will be a large amount of turnover during the off-season with reports of the Hogs down to 79 scholarship players and fifteen players leaving who have graduated to bring that number down to 64. That number does not include the number of transfers you could see heading into 2019. With coach wanting to bring in 29 players next season, that number has to get down to 56 in order to make it all work out. We know how great of a freshman class is being brought in but will Kelly Bryant be added as a grad transfer quarterback? Would Mason Fine of North Texas realize his dream of playing for the Hogs if Bryant forgoes the Razorbacks to go elsewhere? Could Texas Longhorn quarterback, Shane Buechel transfer? Could Myron Cunningham and Chibueze Nwanna stop the bleeding at offensive line? Can the Hogs bring in Caleb Johnson, Lakia Henry or both to help shore up the linebacker depth? Again, there are way more questions than answers for the 2019 season.
Razorback fans, there is help on the way in the 2019 class. Many freshman will have the size you desire and some may move positions but one thing is certain, these kids want to play and will have to grow up quick in order to do so. 2019 will be better, it can not get much worse than 2-10.
As Hog fans we have been through many gut wrenching moments through the past calendar year. The end of the Bielema tenure, a first round NCAAT exit in basketball and then the pop and drop in the CWS championship with the trophy right in our arms. It has been tough but do not lose hope just yet. Hope is on the horizon for Razorback Nation.
Here is the 2019 Razorback schedule:
8-31: Portland State
9-7: @ Ole Miss
9-14: Colorado State
9-21: San Jose State
9-28: Texas A&M (Southwest Classic AT&T Stadium)
10-12: @ Kentucky
11-2: Mississippi State
11-9: Western Kentucky
11-30: Missouri (War Memorial: Battle Line Rivalry)